25 March 2017 | thursdaysrecords
Long, winding road of a movie leading to low-pay-off destination
Several accomplished cast members (winners of International awards, including previous Oscar win by title character) promised a compelling true story, but didn't quite deliver. - Set in Post WWII rural Kansas, the title character is a Native American who is a war veteran with chronic inexplicable painful episodes suggesting brain injuries. Because the local VA Hospital is puzzled by Jimmy's unique condition, a French psychoanalyst (a Freudian scholar) stuck in New York City due to his questionable legal residence and work status, is sent for to assist in figuring this case out. - Jimmy grows to trust this Frenchman and eventually confides the darkest memories that had troubled him from childhood on.
Although this story is based on actual events, I don't find it particularly compelling. There could be many such "true stories" of mental patients told, all with equally moving details and outcomes. The one detail that impressed me was how prejudices against Native Americans were still part of daily life in America, but how simultaneously individuals began to demand respect for minorities, rejecting coded racism. A nurse talking down to Jimmy saying "you can paint the town red" was clearly racist and patronizing. In one scene Jimmy corrected a military official about being properly addressed "My name isn't Chief, it's Jimmy, so you call me Jimmy!". At another point the French psychoanalyst had an outburst and demanded that his patient's medical care be equal to that of any white man. Such moments show the progress in the fight for equality, with a long way to go. For 1948 standards, however, a remarkable progress nonetheless.
The few bright moments in this film don't rationalize the running time of almost 2 hours. Slow and drawn out. At the end of the film, I was still looking for more of a point than was delivered.